HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
July 23, 2007, Herald Journal

The symphony of the north


Bass Lake is a 2,407-acre body of water five miles northwest of Cohasset.

It is made up of two distinctly different basins connected by a channel.

According to the DNR, it has a clarity of 10.75 feet, and a maximum depth of 76 feet.

I have not checked these facts, but I trust the DNR in this matter.

I have studied the lake in some detail, but I must confess that much of this research has been conducted from the vantage point of a chair.

The chair in question is located on the front porch of a cabin, one of 13 similar rustic but comfortable cabins arranged along the shore of the lake that make up Sunset Point Resort.

The cabins are white with Iron Range red trim and roofs. Their outward appearance has changed little since they were built in the 1930s.

Some of the roofs are bowed with age, a bit like the spines of some of their seasonal inhabitants, but otherwise they remain much the same as they must have looked decades ago.

The interior of the cabin is dominated by the warm glow of natural wood.

Some amenities, such as ceiling fans and microwave ovens, have been added over the years, but simplicity is the key to the appeal of the place.

It helps one to feel grounded when one is reminded that we can get by without all of the trappings of our normal day-to-day lives.

There is joy in learning what we can live without.

The comfortable feel of the cabin goes far beyond its physical characteristics.

I know this place as well as I know my own living room.

Along with assorted family members and friends, I have spent a week at the cabin every summer for the past 24 years.

There are plenty of things to do at the cabin.

The lake is populated by northern pike, walleye, panfish, and the bass for which it was named.

If one is not interested in wetting a line, one can pass the time in the water at the swimming beach, or on the water in a canoe, kayak, or other watercraft.

There are games to play and things to see, but, perhaps the most important thing about the cabin is not what we do, but what we don’t do.

The beauty of this place is that it is a throwback to a simpler time. It has not succumbed to the insane notion that we need to bring city noise and chaos into the woods.

The minute one leaves Highway 2 and heads down the road to the resort, life takes on a slower pace.

There is no set schedule to follow, unless one has a tee time over at Pokegama.

There is a special feel about the place.

One can smell it in the air.

There is the damp smell of the fine, powdery dirt road as it winds between the ferns in the shady spaces along the lakeshore that the sun can’t quite penetrate.

There is the scent of the lake itself, a complex mix of fresh water, shore vegetation, and dock boards baking in the sun.

The air itself smells different here, filtered by acres of pine, tamarack, poplar and birch.

The simple things take on a new intensity at the lake.

Perhaps we notice more because we have the luxury of time to notice things.

Far too often, we rush through life without taking time out for simple pleasures.

At the cabin, things are different.

One can kick back in a comfortable chair and stare out at the lake without feeling guilty about missed opportunities.

We don’t worry that there is something else we should be doing, because this is an acceptable way to spend time at the lake.

One can simply lean back and close one’s eyes, and listen to the symphony of the north.

There are the lake sounds, the water lapping at the shore, kids diving from the raft down at the beach, a boat gently bumping the dock as it rides the waves, a fisherman’s outboard motor, and the sound of laughter drifting across the lake, amplified by the water.

There are also animal sounds. One can hear bees buzzing in the sunshine, a chipmunk foraging near the cabin, a squirrel scolding in a tree. Songbirds of all varieties chatter in the woods behind the cabin. A group of geese honks as it wings past, and, somewhere out on the lake, there is the eerie call of the loon.

In the background, there is the constant sound of the wind in the grand old trees that form a canopy overhead.

I have traveled to many amazing places, and there are a lot more places I would like to see and things I would like to do.

Sometimes though, there is nothing finer than unwinding by the lake with nothing to do but listen to the symphony of the north.